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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

Northfield bars discriminate

By Lyndel Owens
News Editor

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Northfield bar scene's policies on foreign IDs are about as clear as a fresh pitcher of lager. Both Froggy Bottoms Pub and the Reub 'n Stein, as of six months ago, maintain that a passport is the only acceptable form of foreign ID.

Initially I considered this protocol rational because it serves the bars' means. However, I am repulsed by the following accounts, specifically the bars' sudden lack of inclusivity.

I spoke with two Reub bartenders who cited trouble verifying IDs of "Mexican truck drivers" and "Hispanics." They explained that they were unsure of what those foreign IDs looked like and that some Latin American countries did not have stringent issuing processes, rendering the bartenders unsure of the carrier's birthdate.

I asked the bartenders how they had learned about these illegitimate issuing processes, and they failed to provide a solid answer. When pressed, they identified their sources as the police and "friendly Hispanics".

The prioritization of retaining a liquor license is reasonable as it is the basis for business, however the Reub's rationale only masks complacent racial discrimination.

Is it possible they enacted the policy as an implicit means of keeping out Hispanics by assuming their illegality? I hope I'm amplifying this. Otherwise, it is backward logic reflective of a set of motives uninvolved with anything regarding the bottom line.

I called the Reub and Froggys to check up on their ID practices. I told them both I was a Canadian national who heard about new ID policy changes and wanted to make sure my driver's license would suffice. Both bars were fine with that. I directly asked if I would need my passport at Froggys, but the woman said no. Next, I asked if my Mexican friend, who traveled into the US with me, could bring her license as well. Both said that was swell.

What accounts for my agreeable experience? When my reporter persona called a few nights before and sternly asked them to explain their foreign ID policy, they confirmed that they would only accept passports.

Posing as a Canadian, I sounded sweet and unthreatening. Did my assumed socio-economic and racial status influence their reaction?

While the state permits the use of all foreign-issued IDs, such private businesses can rightfully determine their own identification standards.

A primary concern is the rejection of alternatives ensuring fairness on all ends. If the doorman is uncomfortable with granting entry to members of the Latino community due to doubts about IDs, birthdates and overall legitimacy, why not take action to be sure, instead of alienating them? Why not research the issuing practices of Latin American countries and create a list of acceptable IDs?

By producing a government issued ID with a birthdate and picture, patrons fullfil their responsibility to prove their age.

The bars' unwillingness to investigate ID forms and issuing processes displays a perverse lack of consideration for their customers.

But whatever their intentions, these changes negatively affect Latinos, a distinct and servieceable group of people. The new rule's wording applies to all foreigners, but in reality excludes a specific ethnic group. Is this coincidental or indirect targeting? If specific incidences with Latin Americans provoked a change in policy, it is logical to deduce that the new policy intended to curb future encounters with Latin Americans.

Though seemingly unintentional, the bars' initial reasoning behind altering ID practices paints a picture of implicit racial profiling.

Cheers? Not by any means.

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